Wednesday, November 11, 2015

... counting the days

 An Advent calendar is a special calendar used to count or celebrate the days in anticipation of Christmas. Since the date of the first Sunday of Advent varies, falling between November 27 and December 3 inclusive, the Advent calendar usually begins on December 1, although many include the previous few days that are part of the season. Recently, in the 20th century, a popular theme has been to use the popular Christmas song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" as the basis for a 12-count calendar.

Advent calendars range in theme, from sports to technology. Many Advent calendars take the form of a large rectangular card with 'windows,' of which there are usually 24: one for each deay of December leading up to and including Christmas Eve (December 24). Consecutive doors are opened every day leading up to Christmas, beginning on December 1. The calendar windows open to reveal an image, a poem, a portion of a story (such as the story of the Nativity of Jesus), or a small gift, such as a toy or a chocolate item. Often each window has a Bible verse and Christian prayer printed on it, which Christians incorporate as part of their daily Advent devotions. Advent calendars may also have puzzles and games printed on their reverse side.

Two of my favorite Advent calendars that I remember as a child were calendars with little drawers, such as the one I'm showing you here today. One had an empty stable printed in the center, and each drawer held a character from the Nativity story. By Christmas you had a complete scene of the Christmas story and on Christmas Eve, the Baby Jesus was in drawer #24 and finished the scene. The other calendar had a pine tree, and in each drawer there was a Christmas tree ornament. By Christmas you had a fully decorated tree, and on Christmas Eve, the final drawer held a star to be put on top.

The Advent calendar I made for Alpha Stamps begins with one of their wooden and chipboard kits which are available here...and right now they're on sale!

These are a breeze to put together and you can probably have the whole thing, including the 24 drawers completed in half an hour or less. It only needs a plain household white glue - I let mine sit overnight to get good and completely dried before I started decorating.

Even though it's no longer available, I decided that the Graphic 45 paper "Nutcracker Sweet" line that I had hoarded for a few years was the ideal paper for this project, so it's what I used. At this point it's out of print, highly collectible, and the pads that are available on eBay are going for quite a few dollars. I suggest using the beautiful "A Victorian Christmas Scrapbook Paper Set" from Alpha Stamps which is available here - also on sale right now! These papers would make a wonderful old world looking advent calendar! I suggest ordering two sets, just to ensure having enough to complete the project - and the paper is reasonable enough it won't break the bank!

I covered the fronts of the boxes with four each of six different designs from the paper pad. I chose to ignore the 'finger pull' cutout in the kit drawers and use large beads as drawer pulls instead. Check out the incredible array of beads at Alpha Stamps here  - lots and lots of choices!
The center of my shadow box I used the main illustration from my paper pad. I cut extras of Clara, the clock face and the title "Nutcracker Sweet" and popped them up with foam tape so they would create a little dimension. I also added a "real" toy nutcracker in front of the nutcracker printed on the paper. And check out the gorgeous beading fringe at Alpha Stamps. I used a pink, because it went with my scene, but the white and the black bead fringe are knock outs! See them here.
My Advent calendar shadow box is topped with a Christmas tree and a spread of goodies from Santa - in this case Alpha Stamps had to stand in for Santa and provide the beautiful miniatures!

I started with the smallest of the two trees in the "Woodlands Wreath and Tree Set" (here) and misted it a light pink. I used several of the beads available in the bead section at Alpha Stamps (here) to use as ornaments. I also used some Crystal Accents to give a tree a bit of a sugar-frosted look.

On one side of the tree, among the gifts is a delightful miniature wooden train and miniature wooden sled - both from Alpha Stamps. The small doll is from my stash of vintage toys.
On the other side of the tree, we see a miniature little red wagon carrying a delightful miniature jack-in-the-box. All of the miniatures are available from Alpha Stamps in the miniature section here - spend some time going through this section as you will find lots of things you will want to put under your tree! The small carousel is a miniature made from a vintage German magazine pattern and is unavailable.

I hope you enjoyed seeing my special Alpha Stamps Advent calendar - and that you're inspired to make one of your own - or one to give a special little person to calm some of their anticipation about the coming Big Day!

... now, go make something beautiful!
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)(¸.•´ 
(¸.•´♥ Tristan


Christi Conley said...

This is gorgeous!! I can so relate to the hoarding of paper!

peggy gatto said...

Oh my, this is so enchanting. All your special additions and details reflect your joy of creating!!!
A true masterpiece!

Lyneen said...

WOW Love your advent calendar!!!! Beautiful... love the paper choices!!

Cheryl Gunderson said...

These are such wonderful ideas. I think my ladies at Poplar Creek would love some of these projects. Thank you, Tristan.

Christine Bell said...

I love your beautiful advent calendar, it would be fun to fill the tiny drawers!!

Teri said...

love it! Wonderful job, as usual, Tristan! Beautiful!

Barbara Rankin said...

What a fabulous project. I have never made one of these advent calendars, but after looking at yours, I am certainly inspired to give it a go. Your paper choice is spot on for this project, too, even if it is no long available. I happen to have some in my stash, though. LOL. Your details are amazing, as always!

Karen said...

What a wonderful piece of art


Karen said...

What a wonderful piece of art


Betsy Skagen said...

Tristan, I knew the wait would be worth it. Fantastic, beautiful, dreamy. Could our minds have been separated at birth? I have been searching high and low to replace my depleting stash of miniatures, and forgotten that Alpha Stamps had them. Will check it out?

Betsy Skagen said...

Tristan, I knew the wait would be worth it. Fantastic, beautiful, dreamy. Could our minds have been separated at birth? I have been searching high and low to replace my depleting stash of miniatures, and forgotten that Alpha Stamps had them. Will check it out?

Jackie PN said...

Tristan, this is ah-mazing! So very very magical and the choice of paper- well, I still go see the Nutcracker every year, so you know this is special to me! hugs